Sat | Nov 26, 2022

Our patois identity

Published:Monday | July 29, 2019 | 12:26 AM


There is in Jamaica, as well as overseas, an irregular connection with Jamaicans and patois. It’s a connection that seesaws from pride of identity to utter disdain. It often has become such an inconvenient conundrum that communication itself is impeded by what language is more politically correct to use, with less emphasis on the message it should carry.

It is amazing that the native tongue that most identify a people must seek apology and suffer disregard in favour of more accepted ways of interacting. What makes a language better or superior to another beyond the country that uses it?


If patios is essentially a substandard mode of communicating, does its defect lie in the language or those who originated it? Its resistance normally falls within the general mode of discrediting anything of native creation until others approve their value, as with reggae music and other local creations.

Jamaicans generally tend to cringe from using the home language, especially among foreigners, even if they’re able to understand it. Maybe it’s as a result of still wrestling with their parents’ castigation of ‘Ho yu caan chat betta dann dat?’

The irony is that, often, the expressions that is most approximate to our truest feelings and mirrors reality most are to be found in the Jamaican language. Like ackee and salt fish, roasted breadfruit and ‘run dung’, like fish and festival, white rum, Red Stripe beer and Blue Mountain coffee, patios is a mark that identifies us as Jamaicans.

Homer Sylvester